Clean + Cure

Creator/s: "anime-honeybee"
Run: 6/09-current
Schedule: About twice a week
Section/s: Ch. 8

I don't normally read manga, and I never read "boy love" stories, so I didn't really know what I was getting into with this webcomic.

Website: It has a simple white-and-tan layout that goes well with the grayscale pages. It'd be nice if there were some supplemental pages, though, like a cast page or a gallery.

The comic updates pretty often, although the days it updates seem to be all over the place. A regular update schedule would probably be better if the creator can manage it.

Writing: Despite being a "boy love" story, there isn't a lot of romance in Clean + Cure, and the comic actually has a fairly complex plot centered around a shadowy drug company called Vlasdell. The catboy protagonists are also conveyed as being the result of some kind of mutation, and the website's description of the comic indicates that these mutations are a significant concern in the comic's setting. I appreciate the ambiguity surrounding the company, as while they don't do anything particularly suspicious in the chapter, the thief character warns the catboys, "Don't trust Vlasdell," and it seems plausible that he has a legitimate reason for his animosity towards the company, especially since he's a catboy mutant as well.

The catboys have distinct personalities, with Ezra being more masculine and aggressive, and Percy being more feminine and passive. Both Ezra and Lin seem to be romantically interested in Percy, establishing a love triangle that develops as a minor element in the chapter. Ezra appears to get jealous when Lin gives a shirtless Percy special attention, and I expect the rivalry between Ezra and Lin will intensify as the story progresses. It's also noteworthy that Lin requires the catboys to wear dresses, establishing him as an eccentric pervert, and I expected the catboys to comment on their bizarre clothing at some point, but no one in the chapter acknowledges it at all. I also think the creator does a nice job of making Lin persuasive enough to reasonably convince the catboys not to quit their jobs, as it initially seems pretty unlikely they'd be willing to do such dangerous work.

The writing does have a downside, though, and it's that the parts with the thief fly by, and aren't as dramatic as they should be. This is most obvious in the transition between page 4 and page 5, where the characters are shown bound and blindfolded in the very first panel after the thief's introduced. It's reasonable to expect that the thief could fairly easily capture the catboys, but it's a particularly intense event that's being completely skipped over, and Ezra's not even in that part of the house where the thief shows up. The thief's next appearance also seems very rushed, as there's a lot of build-up to it, but the fight between Ezra and the thief only lasts a few panels before the Vlasdell agents rush in and grab them. I understand the agents were there the whole time waiting for the thief to arrive, but having the scene be so brief made it seem a bit anticlimactic to me, and it's lame that the creator has Ezra complain afterwards that the thief "got a good shot on my side" instead of showing it happen during the fight.

Artwork: The creator has a clean and confident manga style, and she illustrates the characters, outfits, and backgrounds with a notable amount of skill, detail, and consistency. She's also very good at drawing hands, which is something cartoonists generally struggle with. She also seems have to good sense of when and how to use screentones.

I've complained about it before, and I'll complain about it again here: I'm not big on the goofy cheek-mouths that manga artists like to draw. I understand it's "the style," but it always looks to me like the character has his mouth on one side of his face, and it messes with what would otherwise be some pretty solid character drawings. The creator also makes some awkward mistakes once in a while, like not drawing Ezra's neck here and giving Lin a tiny ear here, but overall there's not much to fault.

Overall: Sometimes Smack Jeeves seems like "that site with all the yaoi comics," and while I've regarded the "BL" (Boy Love) tag on banners as a warning label, Clean + Cure is a creative and skillfully made webcomic that should appeal not only to fans of yaoi, but to general webcomic readers as well, especially once the issues with pacing and character illustration are resolved. I certainly feel encouraged now to be a little more open-minded about my webcomic reading choices.


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